Hugh McElhenny, Hall of Fame running back, dies at 93

Hugh McElhenny, an elusive NFL running back nicknamed “The King,” died on June 17, 2022, at his home in Nevada, his son-in-law Chris Permann confirmed on Thursday. He was 93.

Harry Harris/AP file photo

NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, an elusive running back from the 1950s, has died. He was 93.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame said in a news release that McEhlenny died of natural causes on June 17 at his home in Nevada, and that son-in-law Chris Permann confirmed the death.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970, McElhenny’s thrilling runs and all-around skills as a runner, receiver and kick returner made him one of the NFL’s top players of the 1950s. He was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1952 (before the award became official) and made two All-Pro teams, six Pro Bowls and the NFL’s All-Decade squad of the 1950s.

“Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively — rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner. His all-around talent — obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager — will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement.

An all-conference player at the University of Washington, where he set several Pacific Coast Conference records, McElhenny was selected ninth overall in the 1952 draft by the San Francisco 49ers and made an immediate impact. Not only did he lead the run-happy NFL in yards per carry (7.0) that season, but McElhenny had the longest rush from scrimmage, 89 yards, and the longest punt return, 94 yards. He scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie.

It was the beginning of a stretch of nine seasons in which McElhenny was the 49ers’ primary offensive weapon. Only in 1954, when a separated shoulder sidelined him after six games, and 1960, his final year in San Francisco, was McElhenny not a focal point for the Niners.

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“The 49ers family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of the NFL’s all-time greats, Hugh McElhenny,” San Francisco co-chairman Dr. John York said in a statement. “Growing up, my favorite team was the 49ers. I remember so many great players from the late 50s and 60s. When I started to invite an alum to every game, my goal was to meet the ‘Million Dollar Backfield.’ Hugh was the last of the four to join us and we remained friends. Hugh is a great part of 49ers history.”

McEhlenny also was something of a franchise savior, which was fitting because the 49ers once tried to sign him out of high school when they were still in the All-American Football Conference.

“When Hugh joined the 49ers in 1952,” Lou Spadia, then the team’s general manager, said, “it was questionable whether our franchise could survive. McElhenny removed all doubts. That’s why …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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